Witness in Brooks murder trial arrested

BRADENTON – A key witness in the murder trial of former Lakewood Ranch High quarterback Tim Brooks has been arrested again.

Attorneys in the case picked a jury of three men and eleven women Tuesday in Brooks’ trial on charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery with a firearm in the shooting death of 19-year-old William White Jr. Two of the jurors are alternates.

Prosecutors say White was riding as a passenger in a car driven by Jakob Cunnien, 18, when White was shot by Brooks in a July 13, 2008, robbery.

Assistant State Attorney Art Brown announced today that Cunnien, who is expected to testify against Brooks this week, was arrested Monday on a forgery warrant.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports say Cunnien in September forged a check and presented it to a clerk at a local Amscot branch in exchange for money. Brown announced to Circuit Judge Debra Riva in court that Cunnien had been arrested, but it is unclear what effect his arrest may have on further proceedings.

The forgery charge stems from an investigation by sheriff’s detectives of Cunnien, who was believed to have been burglarizing vehicles. The check he presented in Amscot was stolen in one of the burglaries, according to sheriff’s officials.

In October, sheriff’s detectives say while they had Cunnien under surveillance he drove a car at a deputy, who opened fire on Cunnien, hitting him in the arm.

Cunnien was charged with aggravated assault with a motor vehicle, fleeing to elude and driving with a suspended a driver’s license in connection with the shooting. Those charges are still pending.

Since the shooting, prosecutors issued a warrant on the forgery charge, for which Cunnien was arrested Monday. He has since been released from the Manatee County jail on $4,000 bond.